As Protesters Gather Outside Chevron Shareholder Meeting, Investors Call On Company To Rethink Ecuador Strategy

By Rainforest Action Network
True Cost of Chevron report 2011 cover
Click to download the 2011 True Cost of Chevron report

RAN activists are joining a huge protest outside of Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting this morning to demand the company take responsibility for its pollution in communities around the globe. Representatives from Angola, Ecuador, Nigeria, Indonesia, Canada, Alaska, and Texas, as well as from right here in California and several other places impacted by the company’s business operations, will be outside and inside the meeting to demand justice from Chevron.

The third annual True Cost of Chevron alternative annual report came out yesterday to expose the grim reality of Chevron’s business operations: “Chevron continues its long history of ravaging natural environments, violating human rights, ignoring the longstanding decisions of Indigenous communities, destroying traditional livelihoods, and converting its dollars into unjust political influence in the United States and around the world.”

But it’s not just activists and people living with Chevron’s pollution that are calling on the company to take responsibility for the environmental degradation and human rights violations that are business as usual for Chevron. Trillium Asset Management circulated an investor statement calling on the company to rethink its endless litigation strategy in regards to the Ecuador environmental lawsuit. Chevron was found guilty of dumping 18.5 billion gallons of toxic oil waste in the Ecuadorean Amazon, but refuses to pay to clean it up.

Investors who manage some $165 billion worth of assets have signed on to the investor statement, which notes:

In failing to negotiate a reasonable settlement prior to the Ecuadorian court’s ruling against the company, we believe that Chevron displayed poor judgment that has led investors to question whether our Company’s leadership can properly manage the array of environmental challenges and risks that it faces. We call upon Chevron to fully disclose to shareholders the risks to its operations and business from the potential enforcement of the Aguinda verdict. We also call upon the Company to reevaluate whether endless litigation in the Aguinda case is the best strategy for the Company and its shareholders, or whether a more productive approach, such as reaching an equitable negotiated settlement, could be employed to protect shareholder investments and prevent any further reputational harm due to protracted litigation.

Trillium has also filed a request with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Chevron has “appropriately disclosed to its shareholders the scope and magnitude of financial and operational risk” from the guilty verdict in Ecuador.

And, as the Guardian reported today, the New York State Common Retirement Fund filed a shareholder resolution that would require Chevron to appoint an independent board member with environmental expertise. Pat Doherty, the director of corporate governance at the New York State office of the comptroller, told the Guardian: “The fact that Chevron didn’t have someone with this expertise on the board probably helped contribute to the problem. We’re suggesting that Chevron’s take no prisoner approach has arguably also made things worse.”

RAN teamed up with Amazon Watch a couple weeks ago to commission a report on Chevron’s liability in Ecuador that highlights the discrepancy between what Chevron’s lawyers have been arguing in court and what the company has been telling investors. US Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan passed a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Ecuador verdict after Chevron’s lawyers told him the company faces “irreparable injury” to its business operations if the verdict were to be enforced, while assuring investors that it faces no risk whatsoever.

It’s way past time Chevron was honest with its shareholders and took responsibility for its pollution in Ecuador and around the globe. Today’s protest is sure to be a lively and colorful affair. Stay tuned for pics and video.